To regain the offensive and offer himself a possible out, I suggest that Donald Trump begin the debate by saying something like the following:
“As most of you know, on Friday afternoon an audiotape was released that recorded me saying some really awful things. Things I deeply regret saying. In response, many prominent members of my party have been calling for me to end my campaign. I appreciate their concern, but am also indebted to the millions of people who voted for me in the primaries. If I stepped down it would ratify a terrible double standard where the politicians and their rigged system cover for insiders like Hillary Clinton while someone like me comes from outside and gets judged far more harshly. No Democrats called for Hillary to step down when we learned she’d lied about her emails, or that she took donations at the Clinton Foundation from foreign countries who she was giving favors at the State Dept. No Democrat said Bill Clinton was unfit to be President when we learned what he did to Juanita Broaddrick or other women. Even in the Democratic primary, very few prominent Democrats stood up to say that maybe someone who had so many scandals and failures shouldn’t be their party’s nominee. But we get a tape of me from ten years ago and that’s supposed to make me unqualified.
So I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I will step aside under one condition: that Hillary also step aside. We can let Mike Pence and Tim Kaine take our places, they’re both accomplished public servants. If I’m not fit to be President because of what I said in that audiotape, then Hillary Clinton isn’t fit because of Benghazi and the Clinton Foundation and her emails and what she and Bill did to Juanita Broaddrick and a few dozen other reasons that are being posted on my website as I speak. If she’ll step down, so will I. If not, I ask the American people to look at all the facts about both of us and not just the one sided story being pushed by the media and politicians.”